Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) today launched its annual October chain-wide breast cancer fundraising initiative. The company has raised more than $94 million for the cause since 2001. The funds benefit leading-edge breast cancer research projects at some of North America’s top cancer centers as well as a range of nonprofit organizations focused on new treatments, raising awareness and enabling early detection.

“More than 230,000 women in the U.S. alone will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year,” said Larree Renda, Safeway Executive Vice President, President of Safeway Health Inc. and Chair of The Safeway Foundation. “Thanks to the engagement and generosity of our employees, customers and suppliers, we are funding projects and programs that will continue to have a meaningful impact on breast cancer cure rates.”

Each October, Safeway’s nearly 1,700 stores in the United States and Canada become rallying points for breast cancer fundraising activities. In addition to providing customers with opportunities to donate at the check stand, Safeway and a number of its suppliers get involved by donating $5 for every $30 spent on products with special pink ribbon tags. Safeway also sells special pink breast cancer reusable bags of which a dollar from each sale goes to the cause.

Safeway employees are known for their enthusiasm and support which make all of this possible. During the campaign, stores and employees are often decked out in pink decoration and attire. Employees often volunteer their time and talents to raise money for the cause. Some employees make cookies for bake sales while others volunteer on their own time to join walks like the Susan G. Komen races to bring awareness to the cause.

Safeway fundraising has made the following possible:

– Safeway joined forces with The University of California at San Francisco’s Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center to launch BreastCancerTrials.org nationwide. The site provides a matching service that enables patients to find trials personalized to their situations. It includes patient-friendly trial information for over 500 trials underway at more than 1,500 medical facilities across the country. Thousands of women have been able to search for breast cancer clinical trials at BreastCancerTrials.org, the nation’s only online clinical trial matching service dedicated exclusively to breast cancer.

– More than 150,000 women will participate in the Safeway-funded Athena Breast Health Network, a collaboration between the five University of California medical centers, the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies, and the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Athena’s goal is to revolutionize the course of care by designing and implementing new approaches to research, technology and health care delivery. Participants will be followed for years to come.

– The I-SPY 2 TRIAL, a breast cancer research project managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium, is changing the paradigm for the development of new breast cancer drugs. Today, most breast cancer drugs work for only 30-50% of the patients for whom they are prescribed, and developing each drug typically takes many years, involves thousands of patients and costs well over $1 billion. A groundbreaking clinical trial, the I-SPY 2 TRIAL is changing all of that. Unlike other trials, I-SPY 2 uses molecular biomarkers to target new cancer drugs to the right patients, significantly improving the chances that a woman will get not just any drug, but one that is the best match — the most likely to treat her disease. This unique trial design also makes it possible to test these new drugs in fewer patients and get results more quickly, shaving years and millions of dollars off the drug development process. The Safeway Foundation has provided significant funding for I-SPY 2, which is supported by the Biomarkers Consortium, a unique public-private partnership involving the National Institutes of Health (NIH), FDA, multiple pharmaceutical companies, and major cancer centers.

– The money raised through Safeway’s campaign also funds mobile mammography units in a range of geographies for women who otherwise would not have had access to this important tool for early detection. This outreach is made possible through The Safeway Foundation’s partnership with the hospitals that operate the mammovans and provide the medical screenings. They include The Rose Foundation of Houston, Texas; the Nevada Health Centers Inc.; St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, California; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Washington State; Providence Alaska Medical Center; Exempla-St. Joseph’s Hospital of Denver, Colorado; and George Washington University Hospital of Washington, D.C.

Safeway’s Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser is the second of two annual cancer campaigns. Each June Safeway raises money to fight prostate cancer, one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in men. To date, the company has raised nearly $170 million for cancer causes. However, cancer research is just one of the many important causes the company supports each year. Safeway contributes to a broad range of charitable and community programs and in 2010 donated more than $200 million to education, hunger relief, health and human services and programs focused on assisting people with disabilities.

The company operates stores under the Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Carrs and Pak ‘N Save banners.

About Safeway http://www.safeway.com/ 

Safeway Inc. is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, based on sales. The company operates 1,694 stores in the United States and western Canada and had annual sales of $41.1 billion in 2010. The company’s common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol SWY.

About The Safeway Foundation

The Safeway Foundation supports causes that impact our customers’ lives. Our stores provide the opportunity to mobilize funding and create awareness in our neighborhoods through our employees’ passion, partnerships with our vendors, and the generous contributions by our customers. We focus on giving locally in the areas of health and human services, hunger relief, education and helping people living with disabilities.

Contact: Teena Massingill, 925-467-3801, [email protected] 

SOURCE Safeway Inc.